APOD: The Mysterious Voynich Manuscript (2010 Jan 31)

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APOD: The Mysterious Voynich Manuscript (2010 Jan 31)

Postby APOD Robot » Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:33 pm

Image The Mysterious Voynich Manuscript

Explanation: The ancient text has no known title, no known author, and is written in no known language: what does it say and why does it have many astronomy illustrations? The mysterious book was once bought by an emperor, forgotten on a library shelf, sold for thousands of dollars, and later donated to Yale. Possibly written in the 15th century, the over 200-page volume is known most recently as the Voynich Manuscript, after its (re-)discovery in 1912. Pictured above is an illustration from the book that appears to be somehow related to the Sun. The book labels some patches of the sky with unfamiliar constellations. The inability of modern historians of astronomy to understand the origins of these constellations is perhaps dwarfed by the inability of modern code-breakers to understand the book's text. Can the eclectic brain trust of APOD readers make any progress? If you think you can provide any insight, instead of please.do.not please participate in a fresh online discussion. The book itself remains in Yale's rare book collection under catalog number "MS 408."

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Re: The Mysterious Voynich Manuscript (2010 Jan 31)

Postby RJN » Sun Jan 31, 2010 3:32 am

What is the strange astronomical Voynich manuscript? This manuscript was highlighted and discussed in previous APODs and is featured on today's APOD as well.

Any insight involving what the manuscript says, which culture wrote it, or even when it was written could be a breakthrough in this stalled historical field.

My hope is that the broad international collective experience and proven intelligence of the diverse APOD readership will be able to uncover some previously overlooked clue. Please feel free to post your thoughts!

- RJN

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Re: The Mysterious Voynich Manuscript (2010 Jan 31)

Postby neufer » Sun Jan 31, 2010 4:38 am

RJN wrote:
What is the strange astronomical Voynich manuscript? This manuscript was highlighted and discussed in previous APODs and is featured on today's APOD as well. Any insight involving what the manuscript says, which culture wrote it, or even when it was written could be a breakthrough in this stalled historical field. My hope is that the broad international collective experience and proven intelligence of the diverse APOD readership will be able to uncover some previously overlooked clue. Please feel free to post your thoughts!

Anyone who has seen the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey and wishes to understand the strange ending with that crystal glass that falls off the table and breaks on the floor must first read the 1616 Rosicrucian manifesto: The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz_

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chymical_W ... osenkreutz wrote:
<<The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz (Chymische Hochzeit Christiani Rosencreutz anno 1459) was edited in 1616 in Strasbourg (annexed by France in 1681), and its anonymous authorship is attributed to Johann Valentin Andreae. It is the third of the original manifestos of the mysterious "Fraternity of the Rose Cross" (Rosicrucians). It is an allegoric romance (story) divided into Seven Days, or Seven Journeys, like Genesis, and tells us about the way Christian Rosenkreuz was invited to go to a wonderful castle full of miracles, in order to assist the Chymical Wedding of the king and the queen, that is, the husband and the bride.

This manifesto has been a source of inspiration for poets, alchemists (the word "chymical" is an old form of "chemical" and refers to alchemy – for which the 'Sacred Marriage' was the goal) and dreamers, through the force of its initiation ritual with processions of tests, purifications, death, resurrection, and ascension and also by its symbolism found since the beginning with the invitation to Rosenkreutz to assist this Royal Wedding.

    The invitation to the royal wedding includes
    the Monas Hieroglyphica associated with John Dee.>>
    Image

Once you have read _The Chymical Wedding_ and begin to think you might just understand why that crystal glass falls off the table at the end of the movie _2001_ then and only then might you begin to comprehend _The Voynich Manuscript_:
http://www.crystalinks.com/voynich.html wrote:
<<Historically, [the "Mysterious Voynich Manuscript"]
first appears in 1586 at the court of Rudolph II of Bohemia,
who was one of the most eccentric European monarchs
of that or any other period. Rudolph collected dwarfs and had a
regiment of giants in his army. He was surrounded by astrologers,
and he was fascinated by games and codes and music. He was typical
of the occult-oriented, Protestant noblemen of this period and
epitomized the liberated northern European prince. he was a patron
of alchemy and supported the printing of alchemical literature. >>

<<The Rosicrucian conspiracy was being quietly fomented during
this same period. To Rudolph's court came an unknown person who
sold this manuscript to the king for three hundred gold ducats,
which, translated into modern monetary units, is about
fourteen thousand dollars. This is an astonishing amount of
money to have paid for a manuscript at that time, which
indicated that the Emperor must have been highly impressed by it. >>

<<Accompanying the manuscript was a letter that stated that it
was the work of the Englishman Roger Bacon, who flourished
in the thirteenth century and who was a noted pre-Copernican
astronomer. Only two years before the appearance of the
Voynich Manuscript, John Dee, the great English navigator,
astrologer, magician, intelligence agent, and occultist
had lectured in Prague on Bacon.>>

[I'm only telling you this because you asked and it relates
to a project I've been doing for the last 16 years.]
Art Neuendorffer

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Re: The Mysterious Voynich Manuscript (2010 Jan 31)

Postby physicsjon » Sun Jan 31, 2010 5:32 am

It seems to me that the deign in the center represents the Moon, not just the Sun. Opposing crescents, and the "Man in the Moon" in the middle.Or maybe both the Sun and the Moon.

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Re: The Mysterious Voynich Manuscript (2010 Jan 31)

Postby acepete » Sun Jan 31, 2010 5:38 am

Hey there...

I think maybe this sketch is more related to the moon than to the sun, since the "rays" show a twelve-fold symmetry (twelve month in a year...you know what i mean). There are six stars with seven jags whereas all the other stars have only six jags. Probably different stars are drawn that are only visible at new moon (the part of the ray with the snowflakes in it)...

Just some thoughts...

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Re: The Mysterious Voynich Manuscript (2010 Jan 31)

Postby HellCat » Sun Jan 31, 2010 5:57 am

After reading the intriguing interpretation here, and also reading (mostly) the wikipedia entry, I'm most in favor of Rugg's conclusion based on simple examination of the text. It's a hoax.

That it could be a hoax is certainly a possibility, and that people (or persons) are capable of perpetrating such a thing should also go without saying. So I won't say anything (more) about it.

With that as a starting hypothesis, how do we prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt?

1. Hoaxes are intended to deceive, generally for some type of immediate purpose. Therefore we should look for evidence that the work was created quickly.

2. As a hoax, we can also assume that the diverse content was not derived from other primary sources. Therefore the entire manuscript should appear as the work of a single hand.

3. Since hoaxes are meant to deceive, lack of authorship should be expected. Just as importantly, there should also be nothing relating to external references or credit as would be expected in a more legitimate work.

These are off the cuff comments, but thinking it over leads me to the conclusion that a 'macroscopic' analysis such as word structures and letter frequencies are not the best method for proof one way or the other. The best methods should be microscopic - looking at ink and paper composition at the beginning and end of the work. The binding may even harbor some clue. Even the pollen and soot embedded within the pages and ink could give some insight into exactly where and when the words were written.

And, with all due respect Art, I'm still not too clear on the breaking crystal imagery. Other than shattering old conventions, I can't figure out how it would relate to the Chymical Wedding. Then again, I don't expect all my pistons to be firing at 1 am.

Steve Davidian

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Re: The Mysterious Voynich Manuscript (2010 Jan 31)

Postby DR CARLTON » Sun Jan 31, 2010 6:10 am

THIS MANUSCRIPT IS PERHAPS FROM A TWIN OR NEIGHBORING UNIVERSE WITH THE SUN BEING OF GREAT SIGNIFICANCE. THE LANGUAGE IS REPETITIVE AND THINK THAT IT MAY BE SOMEHOW RELATED TO CHILDREN.

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Re: The Mysterious Voynich Manuscript (2010 Jan 31)

Postby Jack » Sun Jan 31, 2010 6:26 am

A playful drawing for an early board game!

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Re: The Mysterious Voynich Manuscript (2010 Jan 31)

Postby rickshaf » Sun Jan 31, 2010 6:46 am

Hmmm. I'd suggest that this might be an unintentional hoax. Suppose this was the first written attempt at science fiction, and fell into the wrong hands?

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Re: The Mysterious Voynich Manuscript (2010 Jan 31)

Postby bystander » Sun Jan 31, 2010 7:07 am


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Re: The Mysterious Voynich Manuscript (2010 Jan 31)

Postby Rose » Sun Jan 31, 2010 7:23 am

My guess is......in order to decifer this text, you must be wearing 3D Glasses !!

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Re: The Mysterious Voynich Manuscript (2010 Jan 31)

Postby sandmachine » Sun Jan 31, 2010 8:04 am

This may be considered highly speculative, however I will only tell of half it. The rest is forever a mystery! The zones of the sun, the high mathematics explain the language used. Someone knowledgeable and someone careful made this. It’s a simple drawing of the sun and the moon. Horoscopes are excluded. The sun and the moon are one. In a desert light the words surround a life, that life was alone.

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Re: The Mysterious Voynich Manuscript (2010 Jan 31)

Postby Rallon » Sun Jan 31, 2010 8:13 am

Well, there are 12 rays on the sun, perhaps this represents the 12 months? Then above the Sun there are four circular dots, maybe the four seasons? As for the writing, very strange. I wonder if anyone has tried reversing the image to a mirror image. Just a thought.

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Re: The Mysterious Voynich Manuscript (2010 Jan 31)

Postby Unzy » Sun Jan 31, 2010 8:55 am

This is about the whole manuscript, not only the page showed in APOD :

1° Its written in roman alphabet.
2° the visual structuration looks familiar : short and long words as any occidental laguages.

In Wikipedia I read : "but it has also given weight to the theory that the book is simply an elaborate hoax—a meaningless sequence of arbitrary symbols."
Its sounds wrong because :

Its too elaborate and the structure of the whole stuff is particulary homogen. By the way, imagine the gigantic amount of time to concieve such hoax.

On my point of view it belongs to alchimy... some biological descriptions looks as metaphor of some kind of process.
As you know alchimists were customers of imaged language (call in french "langage des oiseaux = bird language) and to codified writtings. (I'm french talker so my references of that subject belongs to french.) :http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Langue_des_oiseaux
The presence of many women in the pictures of the manuscript looks also as alchimical: for alchimists, women are symbol of the nature ability to generate the fifth element = life. Here's an exemple of typical alchimy manuscript style :
Image
Last edited by Unzy on Sun Jan 31, 2010 10:07 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Here is a solution

Postby Richard001 » Sun Jan 31, 2010 9:33 am

Look at http://www.ms408.de/. It says that the MS408 is a teaching book for the Kundalini-Process... (sorry it's mainly german :( ).

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Re: The Mysterious Voynich Manuscript (2010 Jan 31)

Postby Joe Schmoe » Sun Jan 31, 2010 9:50 am

The number twelve shows up so often it must be a calendar of some sort. I think the stars drawn within the "banners" represent the number of bright stars in the sky that month at a given time at night. Also, I think the number of yellow stars in a given month represent the length of day (maybe 12+ hours of daylight = two yellow stars)

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Re: The Mysterious Voynich Manuscript (2010 Jan 31)

Postby TheGasGiant » Sun Jan 31, 2010 10:41 am

I came to the same conclusion as a previous poster...pictorially it appears to me to be a representation of a solar eclipse (I suppose nothing new there). You can 'see' the moons craters on along the edge and the corona around the sun and within the corona (my thoughts here) is a representation of royal colours (red,blue and white). I don't think the stars on the white areas are anything but filling in the white space (hence the haphazard placing and inconsistent number of stars). I tend to agree that the 12 rays is in relation to the months of the year - but why there is only 1 star in the three top rays extensions I do not have a rational thought on. Just my 2c worth.

As for the text. Maybe a musician could help decipher it.

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Re: The Mysterious Voynich Manuscript (2010 Jan 31)

Postby startingfromrocks » Sun Jan 31, 2010 11:06 am

Hi there,
It looks like an eclipse to me too.
Or else perhaps the drawing is showing the cycles of the moon with the two cresent moons on the outside and a full moon in the middle with the "rays" representing gravitational pull?

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Re: The Mysterious Voynich Manuscript (2010 Jan 31)

Postby camille » Sun Jan 31, 2010 11:13 am

in the opinion of my father, this is just a simple drawing of an "ANNULAR SOLAR ECLIPSE". the rays are just coronas of the sun.
or this is just an individual interpretation of the author that the sun is in the center of the universe in which, during that time is highly illegal act of teachings against the catholic doctrine. it was written presumably in coded form to avoid detection and identification of the source by the catholic church authorities.

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Re: The Mysterious Voynich Manuscript (2010 Jan 31)

Postby Case » Sun Jan 31, 2010 11:25 am

Hoax, alchemy, astrological, book of secrets, whatever. It isn't astronomical or even scientific. Why is this on APOD?

Its too elaborate [...]. By the way, imagine the gigantic amount of time to concieve such hoax.
Still worth the effort, considering the amount of money originally paid for it. Not all writers get $30800 (2005 value of 600 ducats) for a mere 272 pages that doesn't even have to make sense.
Even if it wasn't a hoax-just-for-the-money, it could easily be a power thing, like when a main 'advisor' to the monarch claims he needs a manuscript that he has heard of, to do his job 'properly'. Whether such an advisor actually believes this or not, or even arranged to have it made, is irrelevant, as it is a power tool either way. It's not hard to imagine things like this going on back in those days, especially when the monarch is susceptible. Lots of astrologers etc. were trying to sell their services to rulers in every part of the hierarchy. Someone might have thought this manuscript as an angle to get in. Just speculating, tho'.
I, for one, like Roman numerals.

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Re: The Mysterious Voynich Manuscript (2010 Jan 31)

Postby logmark » Sun Jan 31, 2010 12:11 pm

With an artist's eye I note the great care of the calligraphy and its ease of stroke contrasted with the off-handed, almost careless illustration and very unskilled illumination. This tells me there were multiple hands of widely varied skill levels involved in this illustration's creation. All were likely under the direction of another who parcelled out the work in some fashion. I certainly couldn't be convinced that the calligrapher would have approved of the illumination if he had the power to control the work. This tells me the work was done at the direction of not artisans, but governors of some sort - but would a court accept such crude talents?

But kings often felt it necessary to cement the dominance of their reign with new calendars, clocks, and predictions, so a book in a time of few books - even if somewhat crudely or hurriedly made - would make sense.

I see a simple almanac illustration of an annual twelve month calendar. The single-star months would note the "useless" months of December, January, and February - the months for which food stores were required. As for the content of the script, it could simply be notations of weather traits of the months similar to barometers generalized forecasts printed on their dials. The inclusion of stars and the moon seem simply decorative in this case - no care in their crafting. I'd guess they were necessary because the mindset of the day required the king to be seen as having been heavenly appointed.

Why the "code?" Why not. I'd bet that in those days even the mystics and predictors needed devices to fake out the king just to survive. What better device than another secret or fraternal language?

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Re: The Mysterious Voynich Manuscript (2010 Jan 31)

Postby theskyhunter » Sun Jan 31, 2010 12:27 pm

the fact that the #12 is predominate in the center may be a clue(12 sets of stars and 12 sets of lettering. 12 blue rays,12 reddish rays,12rays filled with stars in inner part). could be an astronomical calendar/clock of of sorts? astrological chart? the 12 tribes? a type of family tree? as logmark mentions it does look like an almanac of sorts. just throwing some things out there.

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Re: The Mysterious Voynich Manuscript (2010 Jan 31)

Postby tomb » Sun Jan 31, 2010 12:48 pm

Could this just be a calendar surrounded with a simple song? Possibly a song about the moon throughout the seasons? The three outside bands appear to be lyrics and the second one is denoted with what could be a refrain. The double bars look like the start/end of the song. Maybe it's not so complex or encrypted as lead to believe. The fact that the calligraphy is finer than the picture itself suggests that the person who illustrated it possibly did not know how to write during this age and had someone else write in the song lyrics. Just my two cents...

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Re: The Mysterious Voynich Manuscript (2010 Jan 31)

Postby The Code » Sun Jan 31, 2010 1:06 pm

Taking a look at all the pictures in the book, gives me the impression that its an early attempt at the encyclopedia. Trying to answer the meaning of life. All aspects of life.
Always trying to find the answers

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Re: The Mysterious Voynich Manuscript (2010 Jan 31)

Postby knalty » Sun Jan 31, 2010 1:28 pm

Edith Sherwood makes a good case for the voynich manuscript being the work of a young Leonardo da Vinci.

http://www.edithsherwood.com/voynich_au ... /index.php


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